For most of my career I have worked with lawyers and law firms. From software development to IT management. From project management to directing a knowledge department. From event management to social media consulting. I even studied law, but never actually practised. My close proximation to lawyers has led me to believe it’s an excellent training ground for parenthood.
Much more so than coding.
- Lawyers manage time according to billing blocks. Neat fifteen minute increments. This is much the same way I manage time when my littlest is asleep. I break things up into bite-sized blocks and attempt to race the sleeping clock in a bid to get it all done. When I don’t get all the things done, the person who sometimes believes he is my supervisor asks why I didn’t make budget.
- Particularly in the early years, both law and parenthood is thankless, under-paid and often more menial than one was led to believe in the lead up to it all. And those that went before are quite prepared to tell you to “we all went through it — one day you’ll miss it”.
- As you progress in both the professions of law and of parenthood you realise that 90% of your role is cleaning up other people’s messes.
- Both parents and lawyers need to be adept in the subtle art of knowing exactly what your client/child wants before they do and have the ability to interpret intelligible demands or risk massive tantrums.
- The only people on earth with keener negotiations skills than lawyers are parents. Watch out if your lawyer is a parent — you can’t go wrong.
- What you were lead to believe and the reality of your day to day differ greatly. When I went to work for my first firm I thought it would be all Ally McBeal dancing babies, short skirt suits and Law & Order style shennigans. It wasn’t. When I first had a child I thought we’d resemble those blissful Huggies ads with all the great hair, cuddling and white sheets. We didn’t.
- Like law, the rewards of parenthood are great. Like law, the hours are terrible.
But parenthood and coding are nowhere near each other.
- I have yet to locate the re-boot button on my children which will solve all problems instantaneously.
- Coding has a predictable outcome. A certain input will always yield a certain output. I have never found this to be the case with my kids.
- When I coded, you’d find documentation in every module. Carefully explaining exactly what the code was designed to do, why I made certain decisions and assumptions. I have yet to find the specific documentation for my children. Oh, there is plenty of generic material out there, but no-one wrote the definitive guide book on my particular boys.
- Projects can be planned. Neat little milestones can be set. I tried to apply that approach with my first pregnancy. I came into appointments with a ring binder carefully charting every aspect of my pregnancy. The receptionist would smirk “first time mother then?” My son come into the world four weeks early. On Christmas Eve. I gave up project managing my children immediately.
- With the exception of a few easily resolved runtime errors, I wrote code and it did exactly what I told it to do. I made babies and they rarely do what I tell them to do.
Which jobs do you think prepare you for parenthood?
Which are a far cry from it?